Key Monastery



Overlooking Kaza from a height of about 13,500 ft, the Kye monastery is the largest in the valley and holds a powerful sway over the most populous part of the valley around Kaza. The gompa or monastery is an irregular heap of low rooms and narrow corridors on a monolithic conical hill. From a distance it resembles the Thiksey monastery near Leh in Ladakh. The irregular prayer chambers are interconnected by dark passages, tortuous staircases and small doors. Hundreds of lamas receive their religious training in the monastery. It is also known for its beautiful murals, 'thankas', rare manuscripts, stucco images and peculiar wind instruments that form part of the orchestra whenever 'Chham' is enacted in the 'gompa' during summers. Another interesting aspect of the 'gompa' is its collection of weapons, which may have been used to ward off marauders and also to maintain its control over people betraying a church-militant character. Thousands of devotees from all over the world attended the 'Kalachakra' ceremony which was performed in August 2000 by His Holiness Dalai Lama. 'Kalachakra' initiation is not just an elaborate puja or a religious congregation, it is a workshop on a grand scale to make an earnest effort by both the teacher and disciples to awaken their Buddha nature by the combined forces of teaching, prayer, blessing, devotion, mantra, yoga and meditation. It is an effort by every participant to try to discover the true and permanent peace for the sake of all others. The Buddhists believe, mere presence during this elaborate initiation ceremony stretching over a few days liberates the participant from suffering and bestows on him the bliss of enlightenment. The ceremony focuses on five main subjects - cosmology, psycho-physiology, initiation, sadhana and Buddhahood. A 'Kalachakra mandala' and 'Viswatma deitiy' in union with his consort are at the centre of this ceremony guiding the disciple through the tedious process of initiation.